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July 29, 2012

Momentous decisions or delusions of grandeur

The decision, so I had thought, had been made in April.  Maybe it happened even earlier, but it was definitely made by April.  This year, instead of running anything really long, I was going to continue improving my speed.  When October rolled around, I did not want to run the Hartford Half Marathon course for the third year in a row.  It didn't appeal to me.  So, I came up with the idea to do the Marathon Relay with my wife, mMiL, and I thought some more family and friends.  It seemed like a good way to eliminate all the competition (real or perceived) and comparisons (real or perceived) that had plagued the last two years of half training. We were to be one unit, and nobody was going to check in on each other.

Of course, we knew mMiL had a torn meniscus, and needed arthroscopic surgery at the end of April.  However, we assumed she would be back strong by Columbus Day.  If she wasn't, I assumed we would have plenty of people vying for the team.

As the months have progressed, and talk of it has continued, my wife and mMiL seemed to be the only ones where showed genuine enthusiasm about it.  Other people would not commit, or didn't respond when I asked them about joining. So, for my birthday, when I got asked what I wanted, I just said I wanted people on my relay team.  My birthday came and went, and I had no definites except Stacey.  mMiL commited as much as she could, but she's still recovering, and not happy with her pace.

Regardless of all of this, I continued to up my mileage all summer, as I always do.  A funny thing happened.  Several people took notice, and they all assumed I was running the full.  I said no.  They asked if I was running the half.  I said no.  Then I explained that I really wanted to get a Marathon Relay together.  But, they were just amazed that my mileage went up (as it does every summer).

So, there we were on vacation.  I got my 5k pr.  I said, "I need a new goal."  And, a few days later, as I got another noncommittal response about the relay, because people had to figure out what they were doing, and my frustration got the best of me.  I needed to figure out what I was going to do, and I wasn't going to have my training held hostage.  So, I said screw it.  I set my new goal.

My decision, that day, on the beach, was fine.  Since nobody can commit to me except my wife, I will commit myself to my training, with her permission.  I was going to run the full marathon in Hartford for the second time.  I swore, after one, I was done.  But, I also had no interest in running the Hartford Half for a 3rd straight year.  No, not now.  Now I was going back.  I had demons to slay.

A lot of things built into this decision.  With everyone asking me about running 26.2 again, it had been lingering in the back of my head since early May.  Or maybe it was longer; I'm not sure.  I just knew that people's inquiries about my training really piqued my interest.

Plus, I remember reading something on @Frayed_Laces' (a blogger, triathlete, and real person, who I really enjoy reading) blog site that was a minor rant about how if you walk, or take 5 hours, you didn't really run the marathon.  I'm going to chalk that one up to somebody having a bad day, or maybe she even printed a fan email.  I'm not sure.  I just remember that whenever I read it, it stuck in the back of my head.  Regardless, I think people who are interested in running, cycling, or triathlons should read her site.  It's great, and amateur, and just really well done.  Then, Bill Rodgers brought up the debate in The Idiots Guide to Running.  And, after reading those things I felt that, since I cramped up at Mile 20 in my first marathon, I still had a little something to prove (1:45 for 10k is NOT acceptable).  And so, I hoped that after we ran the relay together, I could drop the bomb on my wife, that in 2013, I wanted to torture myself again, and do something I swore I would never do again.

So, I bumped up my timeline.  And I'm thrilled.  The day after we got back from vacation, I still had to check if I was on pace to actually train.  There were only 12 weeks, not 18 as I would have liked.  But, my training prior to vacation had been pretty good, and the miles were there.  So, on Saturday, after we returned from two weeks on the Cape, I capped my first 30+ mile week off in forever, with a half marathon.  I ran 2 minutes faster than I had during the first half of the Hartford Marathon in 2009.  And, therefore, I'm back at this.  I'm ready.

And so, I want to thank some people.  First, my wife, who seemed fine with my goal and decision when I asked her if I could do it.  And yes, I asked if I could do it, because frankly, I remember how much time I spent out training last time.  I also want to thank the people that made me want to go back to that place.  My friends, the people who's website I read, all of them.  Without you, I wouldn't have this need to prove myself. Finally, I want to thank those that were going to maybe, possibly, do the relay.  My impatience and your hemming and hawing really were the push I needed to go out, and try to do what is, by far, the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.


But faster.


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